Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Science Is Sinking in the Murray–Darling Basin

By Tom Chesson

Applied research suffers cuts while science loses farmers’ trust.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Recommendation 14 is one of the most important yet largely ignored recommendations from the Windsor Parliamentary Inquiry into the Murray–Darling Basin water reforms: “that the Commonwealth Government focus greater investment into research and development to improve irrigation efficiency”.

If we do not substantially increase funding for agriculture research, development and extension services the nation’s food security will be severely compromised. We cannot keep doing more with less.

While Recommendation 14 was adopted “in principle” by the government, we are at a loss as to why the government has abolished Land and Water Australia and the Irrigation Futures, Cotton and Forestry Cooperative Research Centres. This just makes no sense.

Food and fibre producers are proud of the role we play in feeding and clothing the nation and the world. We are proud of the fact that we are among the world’s best farmers. We know that we would never be the best without the support of our practical scientists. We know that science in this country is underfunded and our productivity is declining because of it. We need increased funding for the practical scientific endeavours that will enables us to produce more with less.

More than anything we need extension services that take the research from the lab to the paddock. The lack of dialogue between farmers and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Tom Chesson is Chief Executive Officer of the National Irrigators’ Council.